Every year, Americans spend about $1,200 on prescription drugs, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Which should make for positive reading – though much of the business is hoovered up by pharmacies operating under the umbrella of one of Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid.
It’s a unique challenge for independent pharmacists, though there is scope to grow. Today we’re looking at how you can improve the health of your store with better pharmacy marketing.
1. Look to time-management to maximise your ROI
It may not seem like something that will impact sales, but time-management is important to effective pharmacy marketing as the pressure of fulfilling prescription volumes can often go head-to-head with finding time to cater to expanded services such as patient consulting.
While qualified pharmacists may have a wealth of knowledge following their graduation from pharmacy school, they may not necessarily have firsthand experience in time management – or indeed in managing others.
Managers should run an 80/20 model for time-management: with 80 percent of their time going towards actively doing while the final 20 percent goes towards managing. This way, staff are given the freedom to do their jobs, while still being able to check in.
All pharmacy staff should be put through their paces when it comes to time management and efficiency to make sure they’re servicing as many patients to as high a standard as possible, while managers need to strike the balance between micro-managing and actually fulfilling their roles.
2. Invest in the right technology
Many pharmacies have been swept up by high-tech as extreme as robotics – and no doubt, the right technology has an impact on your store as it can take care of otherwise manual tasks like logging patient data, filling prescriptions, and dispensing medications.
However, not all technology is created equal – or, no doubt, it isn’t strictly necessary to the growth of your store. Investing in a pill counter makes absolute sense, as does inventory management or formulary management where technology can flag a low-cost but equally effective alternative medication.
A tool worth considering from a marketing perspective is Pointy, a retail platform that turns online searches into sales, taps into valuable retail insights, and brings new customers into your pharmacy by getting your in-store products online and onto Google.
It’s based on local searches, so if someone searches for ‘product/store near me’, Pointy works to put your products/store in front of them in the search results.
🌟<<If you’re interested in what Pointy might do for your store, you can watch a walkthrough by clicking here or on the gif below.>>🌟 After all, technology isn’t here to replace personnel or services, but to enhance the customer experience.
3. Offer a broad range of expanded services in your pharmacy
Your customers can buy most of the OTC medication they need while they’re in the local supermarket.
Expanded services have become the cornerstone of the pharmacy business – and it’s an area where most independent pharmacies can serve to grow. Flu clinics, diabetes management, healthy heart programs, and consultations are all common services in most pharmacies – and they can be a serious boost to your ROI.
Of course, your staff need to know the ins-and-outs of all these services across the team – regardless of whether they work a cash register or if they’re in the dispensary.
Ultimately, every great pharmacy does the best it can by its patients – and that’s what will truly set your business apart.
For example, investing in training condition-specialist pharmacists could be a lift for your pharmacy, but also for the patients who stop by. You could train a staff pharmacist to become a specialist in the area of fertility, which is challenging for many people. Healthcare should be accessible, and pharmacies are a great bridge to that.
It leads to better customer care, an improved customer experience, and fosters loyalty in these same customers who will be more likely to come back to you for everything from OTC purchases to more complex consultations.
4. Learn how to effectively upsell
The difference between scraping by and flourishing lies in your staff’s ability to upsell. It’s a vital part of your pharmacy marketing strategy.
Take for example a seasonal occurrence like hay fever. It happens every year, so most supermarkets will stock hay fever products too – which makes it difficult to compete as they can usually lower their costs relative to independent pharmacies.
Your advantage is in consulting and advising these patients – likely something a supermarket can’t do.
Warman-Freed, a U.K. pharmacy chain, capitalized on hay fever season to learn about their customers. They realized that many hay fever sufferers weren’t purchasing the best treatment or prevention products.
Warman-Freed paired consumer research and data from their electronic point-of-sale system to identify customer trends and found four different types of customers within the allergy category.
They then categorized the different customers according to their needs, which allowed staff to accurately prescribe them the best treatment.
The pharmacy could review its product range while sufferers could be more accurately catered to. Pharmacies are unique in this regard, as many drugs have side-effects that can be mitigated with other medication. A common pairing, for example, is a probiotic alongside an antibiotic.
It’s an easy upsell – and it’s one consumers can trust. Likewise, many consumers who are buying nutrients don’t consult with a pharmacist first so they may not be taking the right supplements. Your pharmacy could consult with these same people and offer them the right alternatives.
To efficiently upsell across your whole store, your staff will need to know the ins-and-outs of all your expanded services. Encourage your staff to cross-promote: some pharmacies have many services and products, so make sure all your staff are onboard with joined-up thinking.
For example, staff on the cash registers might mention an expanded service that ties in to what the customer is buying – such as a heart health checkup clinic mentioned to a patient who is buying OTC medication for cholesterol.
5. Play into the local angle to make a win with your pharmacy marketing
Pharmacies are at the root of most communities, so look to partner up with relevant businesses such as clinics, healthcare practitioners, organizations, community groups or other local businesses.
Essentially, look to shift the perception from being a pharmacist who is just there to give out bottles of pills to being a business that takes care of the local community. The best businesses thrive because they care – it’s even truer for pharmacies.